This story is one part of a five part series where we highlight seniors with interesting paths after graduation. This is only a small sample of the many students who are doing interesting things.
Senior social work, psychology and Spanish major Maggie Sheehy has always been passionate about helping others, and this summer, she is heading overseas to do just that. In a few months, she will join the Peace Corps and live in Benin, Africa for 27 months.
Sheehy made the decision to join Peace Corps only at the beginning of her senior year. She said that she wasn’t sure if it was an option for her because she was not sure she would get in.
“I thought that I might as well apply and see what happens. So, I applied and then, you know, here we are,” Sheehy said. “I’m really, really excited about it.”
The Peace Corps is a government program with a mission to help countries in need to develop both socially and economically. Sheehy will serve as a community work volunteer, where she will work with mothers who need help with pregnancy or nutrition and help with people with HIV. Sheehy will start her program with three month of training before embarking on her her two-year assignment.
Sheehy and her father, a social worker, share the same passion for serve and social justice. She said he was huge influence on her decision to join Peace Corps. Growing up, Sheehy watched her dad help others and looked up to him. When people would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would always say that she wanted to be like her dad.
“I always said ‘my dad’,” Sheehy said. “I just want to be like my dad.”
For Sheehy, the motivation to join Peace Corps comes from her wish to be the best version of herself. She believes that the service and experience in other cultures will help her learn new things and expand herself.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to think that people can make the world a better place, but I think that it is realistic to think that you can make yourself a better person and then by default make the world a better place,” Sheehy said.
This is not the first time that Sheehy has done service in a foreign country. She has also been a part of the UP’s Moreau Center’s Experience Immersion, during which, on May after her sophomore year, she went to Nicaragua for three weeks.
She says that in Nicaragua, she was really stunned by how happy everyone was throughout the program. That made her wonder where all the happiness and welcoming atmosphere was coming from.
“It finally occurred to me — the people just care so much about each other. They prioritize human connection,” Sheehy said. “That was like a total wake up call for me when I was like, wow, everything that I’ve ever sort of prioritized in my own life has been deconstructed by these people that are showing me that true happiness comes from loving others. That was totally life changing.”
She says that her experience in Nicaragua is one of the reasons she decided to join Peace Corps. In her program she hopes to not only help the people, but also learn new things from them like she did in Nicaragua.
“It’s cheesy to say it changed my life, but I came back a totally different person,” Sheehy said. “And I think that also pushed me towards Peace Corps ultimately with experiencing different culture and not even thinking that ‘wow there is so much work that needs to be done here’, but thinking ‘wow, we have so much to learn from other communities in the U.S.”
Sheehy’s senior year has been a roller coaster of emotions, she said. The fact the she is moving to the other side of the globe makes it even more emotional and bittersweet for her because she enjoyed her time at UP.
“I am super glad I ended up here,” Sheehy said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Anush Hakobyan is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at email@example.com.